Monday 1 June 2015

Pintxos Bar Crawl, San Sebastián, Spain.

This is not a definitive guide to pintxos bars in San Sebasatián. In fact it's absolutely nowhere near that. Our trip was just over Sunday and Monday evening, when some (like Ganbara) are sadly shut. This is not unusual in Spain where many restaurants are closed on either Sunday or Monday or both. We'd like to return for a week and just spend the whole time exploring all of the pintxos bars in the old town. This trip has just made us hungry for more.
This wasn't even on my pintxos map but it was open and looked inviting on the rainy Sunday night we are there. (It rains a lot in San Sebasatián). The pintxos are pretty standard (for here) and traditional but decent enough and the service is warm and efficient. It's hard for me, a naturally greedy pig not to pick up everything that I fancy from the bar top. So I do, for the most part. These below look like Angulas, baby eels, a delicacy in Spain. I've never seen them at a tapas bar in the UK although you can get a copy from many Spanish supermarkets*. The fresh ones that Asador Etxebarri serve seasonally are highly prized here.
La Culchara de San Telmo.
I am determined to get in at this place this time, sister bar to Borda Berri. I turn up at about 7pm and they are shut. Just 20 minutes later we manage to get the very last place standing at the small bar. We love La Culchara de San Telmo. The food is unbelievably cheap and very good. It comes out quickly too and once I'd got the eye of my particular barman serving, it was easy. I'm in pig heaven. We have Foie and Montford Asado (gorgeous, like meaty jelly, €3.90), Oreja de cerdo iberico (pig's ear, rich and cartilage-y! €3.20) some Morcilla and a superb Mushroom Risotto (they always seem to use orzo instead of rice here, I prefer the texture too).
Borda Berri. 
We loved it last time and fight our way through the rain then the crowds at the bar to order. We are also quite pissed at this point. I really enjoy this part of the night, where everything is funny and the beer is flowing freely. Some of the dishes are slightly over salted this evening although it's still good. We eat this below, risotto apart who knows what it was? I think one dish is a ravioli. We wolf it all down.
Next, we try to sit down on one of the empty tables reserved for proper diners at modern pintxos bar, A Fuego Negro but are severely admonished by the feisty waitress there. So we head back to the mad crowded bar area like naughty schoolchildren. We have one of their small signature burgers (don't knock it until you've tried it) and some boozy Olives filled with Vermouth. I'm sure these don't help my hangover the next day.
Almost next door, Atari wasn't originally on my list either but we just fall into it on our wanderings. It's an enjoyable clean modern bar and the service is unusually friendly. (The Basque bars don't always do service with a smile we've found). 
More foie and a lovely goat's cheese ice cream finish our night off in style.
One can easily fall into the trap when researching; what is the very best pintxos bar? But there is no 'best'. There are so many other factors involved. Is the place open, is it so full that you can't even get to the bar? Who is cooking that day and what do you really fancy eating? The best thing to do is not to worry too much about it, just get lost in the alcohol fuelled fun of exploring what must be one of the best areas in the world for eating well.
*Interactive San Sebastián Pintxos Map from twitter pal Jesús Fdez.
Places to try next time: La Vina, Bar Txepetxa, Ganbara, La Cepa, Bar Nestor etc.....
To be continued.

* I am reliably informed that the Angulas in the Spanish supermarkets are not real but seafood imposters called Gulas (false angulas) made from Surimi a fish from Alaskan waters pressed into blocks on factory ships. You can get the real Angulas canned but even these are very expensive.

1 comment:

  1. hey I tried bar nestor (tomato salad and the beef steak), bar txepetxa (the archives and spider crab toast and the jardinera style anchovies toast which was amazing) and borda berri where I had the veal which was like the softest meat I have ever tried.Brilliant.